Distinctly Montana Magazine

Distinctly Montana Fall 2020

Distinctly Montana Magazine

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D I S T I N C T L Y M O N T A N A M A G A Z I N E • F A L L 2 0 2 0 84 3 M O N TA N A i n Y E A R S LET'S START WITH THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION FACING ANY AMERICAN LUCKY ENOUGH TO BE ALIVE IN 2050. HOW LONG HAVE WE HAD FLYING CARS? In recent years, flying cars technologies have come a long way and what once viewed a science fiction will soon become a reality. As we speak, start-ups and major brands are developing them, including Boeing, Hyundai, Airbus, Toyota and Uber. It's a market that should continue to mature during this decade and then boom globally. In 2050, it would be around 20 years or more into commer- cial application of flying cars and flying taxis in our major cities. DO YOU EXPECT THAT TRANSPORTATION WILL STILL PRIMARILY BE DRIVEN BY FOSSIL FUEL IN 2050? Not quite, while fossil fuel will still be an important source of energy for moving people and goods in 2050, clean energy alter- natives are expected to claim a higher share of the energy market where zero-emission vehicles become a real rival to gasoline and diesel-powered vehicles. To address climate change and other environmental concerns, many European countries, China, India and major cities outside the US are taking bold measures to curb the reliance on fossil fuel and promote clean energy alternatives in driving our vehicles. In 2018, more than 49% of the new car sales in Norway were electric and hybrid vehicles, compared to 2% in the US. Driven by the success of Tesla, major brand auto manufacturers in the US and abroad are all competing to claim their share of the massive electric car market not only for passenger cars but also for light-duty and commercial trucks. A recent study in California reported that the electric vehicle battery technology has advanced faster and costs have declined more rapidly than expected, to the extent that in 2030, the costs of owning and operating zero-emis- sion vehicles in the US are projected to be lower than gasoline and diesel cars and trucks. I'M A BIG FAN OF THE IDEA OF THE HYPERLOOP. DO YOU THINK WE'LL EVER SEE ONE TRAVERSING MONTANA, OR IS WILL HYPERLOOPS ALWAYS REMAIN IN THE REALM OF SCIENCE FICTION? No, I don't expect the hyperloop to make its way to Montana for two main reasons: the large investments in building these systems and the large ridership required for these systems to become feasi- ble. To put things in context, a proposed hyperloop system between Los Angeles and San Francisco was estimated to cost between $6 billion and $7.5 billion in 2013, with analysts expecting the true cost to be several billions above that estimate. Besides SpaceX in the US, a few startups in other countries have been working on advancing the hyperloop technology. However, this advancement has been slowed down by the focus shift on other emerging technologies of autonomous transportation systems. OKAY, OKAY. BACK TO REALITY. IT'S 2050. WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MOST SIGNIF- ICANT CHANGES IN MONTANA'S TRANSPORTATION LANDSCAPE? The Montana transportation landscape will certainly be affected by the change in the transportation landscape of neighboring states and the country as a whole. T R A N S P O R TAT I O N "MONTANANS WILL ENJOY A HIGHER LEVEL OF MOBILITY AND PERSONAL AUTONOMY, THANKS TO THE DRIVERLESS TRANSIT AND PARA-TRANSIT SYSTEMS THAT WILL HELP SPREAD THE SERVICE TO LARGER GEOGRAPHIC AREAS."

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